Is Seeing the Good in Others a Good Idea?


We all know them. Those wonderful people who first and foremost pick out the best qualities in a person – who refuse to think ill of someone when a problem first comes up. I’m married to one.  He can come home and tell me how his boss erroneously blessed him out or blamed him for something  he didn’t do. And I, of course, become indignant on his behalf, to which he responds defensively – of himself, for some reason, AND his boss! Ugh. Insan-o.

In my experience, if you think well of someone for no reason, as in, you don’t know that person enough to trust them, you’re an idiot if you search out the good qualities first. This goes all the way back to childhood. It’s foolish, I have always believed, to think good thoughts about someone who hurts you. Foolish and weak.

I have learned over time, however, that nice people aren’t weak; just the opposite, in fact.  It is easy to lose your temper when someone is mean to you and act like a witch. It is infinitely harder to reign it in and try your best to be kind in return. So even though I see it as a strength,  and not a weakness, how come I still also see it as foolish?

Well, for one thing,  I think nice people get treated like doormats. What’s more, I don’t think they really care. I think  they don’t see it that way at all, in fact. I think it never enters their minds so it doesn’t bother  them. But it would absolutely enter mine. And that’s one of the worst feelings for me, personally – the feeling of being used, of being taken advantage of. You know those people who only talk to you when they want something? Ok – that’s the feeling I’m talking about. Every time I stick my neck out for someone who “isn’t worth it” I end up feeling that way.

Somewhere out there in my mind I know that’s ridiculous. I know, deep down,  that most people are basically nice, and they don’t want to hurt anybody. But to counter that, I also know that most people,  if given the opportunity, would take advantage of someone else, even if it’s unintentional. How many responsible, nice people do you know who kind of drop the ball when the boss is away? Um, just about everybody.

So what is the solution? To think the worst of everyone and be mistrustful? No, because that makes me pretty miserable. To be nice, but a little cautious? I think I can settle for that, for now.

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